From: NYer living in Boise, ID
Nov 44 Summary
What a month! Significant VP locations secured on land and a major naval engagement guts the IJN which pushed the victory level to “Major”! On the debit side, the cost of gutting the IJN was steep and the strategic bombing campaign sputtered a bit as new improved B-29s are brought into service. The landings at Amami Oshima triggered two significant IJN naval sorties, but only one resulting in a major engagement. While Taihoku on Formosa was secured by US and ANZAC forces, the major land gains were made on the Asian continent by Commonwealth and Chinese forces - Chungking, Honk Kong and Singapore were the highlights. Naval losses for the month were significant for both sides; the IJN reportedly lost 2BB, 2CVE, 7CA, 2CL, 15DD, E, 5SS, and 13 MTB, compared to the Allies losing 10CVE, 2CA, 1CL, 2CLAA, 7DD, 6DE, SS and 18PT. In the air, losses were fairly even: 960 for Jpn to 869 Allied for the month’s tallies.
INTEL: I figured the landings at Amami would trigger a response, and it sure did, although not in a manner I had thought - the IJN counter was a massive all-out effort aimed at engaging the US Fleet, not the Amphib and supporting TFs. While this sortie gutted the IJN surface fleet, leaving only a handful of effective warships, the KB remains intact, believed to be based near Tokyo, and remains a threat, although likely limited by fuel shortages. The lack of a determined more forward defensive line in China has been a major surprise, and not fighting major engagements to hold either Chungking or Hong Kong were welcome. The defensive line the IJA has established in NE China looks to be taking shape, and probably won’t be tested all too much - no major gains to be made. While supply and fuel issues can be expected to limit any major offensive action, I can still expect a tough challenge to gain air superiority over Kyushu, and the threat of Kamikazes and another CV rear area raid are also likely.
Strategic Bombing Campaign: Only four major raids during the month as the B-29-25 comes into service. The raids hit three separate cities; Osaka hit again on two raids. Raids were met by increasing numbers of night fighters, although not all are radar equipped, and effectiveness varied. AA fire remains a major threat, but bombing results were good on three of the four raids, netting about 2000 strategic VPs, bringing the total to 9438. December should see an increase in raids, although weather and refitting squadrons with the newer B-29s may still impact. Either way, will keep the B-29s flying at night. With the new B-29-25 and the AF at Taihoku AF become operational in December, Tokyo is now in normal range and the goal is to have the first massed raid against the capital during the month. Will also look to begin limited B-24 daylight raids over Kyushu beginning in December, largely dependent on the success of the upcoming fighter sweeps from the Ryukyus. With SE Asia forces gaining bases along the SE China coast, Tenth AF B-24s and long range fighters may also enter the campaign over Kyushu before the month is out.
SUBWAR: Even with the blanket of subs covering the approaches to the Ryukyus, the IJN was able to penetrate the sub screen on a major sortie without loss and engage the US Fleet. However, subs were successful in picking off a number of the damaged ships on their return trip. Also, the increased sub pickets did find and engage another CV rear area raid sortie. Will continue to keep subs concentrated off the Ryukyus and the picket line in the “Black Gap” south of the Aleutians, as well as continue to push a limited number of boats into the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan. Japanese ASW remains lethal, although a bit less effective as the Japanese defensive perimeter continues to shrink.
West Coast/USA/Rear Areas: Fighter production increases to 1268 in Dec as the Russian Yak-9 comes into production, and the British begin receiving the Hellcat II. Pilot pools are in pretty good shape, a little short for US bomber pilots, but manageable. On the naval side, two new Essex class CVs will arrive during Dec.
NOPAC. Still quiet and staying quiet.
CENPAC. By month’s end the CV rear area raid was eliminated and convoy re-routing was just starting to normalize when another raid looked to be beginning. While I think that raid returned to port, the threat of another raid remains, and will rely on over 30 subs deployed in CENPAC to provide warning and engage should it develop. The main body of troops earmarked for the ’45 landings at Hokkaido have arrived in Hawaii, and will take all of Dec if not more to sort them out into objective oriented convoy packages - matching land and amphibious forces required to lift. Troops also still need more time to plan, the earliest embarkation is likely Feb.
SOPAC. So, two major IJN sorites to disrupt the Amami landings, and the first major sortie was a non-event as the IJN blow fell on empty seas as the US Fleet had repositioned - and while air search got wind of an IJN sortie, weather prohibited major counter strikes - and the extent of that first sortie remains largely unknown. The second soritie went in a totally unexpected direction - reaching all the way back to the “safe anchorage” at Kume-jima, missing the CV and Amph TFs, but engaging the CVE TFs awaiting the Amami support troops convoy. I probably couldn’t have had better timing for the entire IJN surface force to sortie - while major surface engagements did maul the CVE TFs and their cruiser/destroyer protectors, the US forces inflicting enough damage to make the return to port for the IJN very challenging, and the US CVs remained very much intact. By the time the last IJN ship limped into port, the mighty IJN was wrecked as a “Fleet in Being”, no longer capable of an all out sortie. With the focus shifting to securing Tokunoshima and Okinoerabushima, I don’t see another major engagement. Once troops are ashore at Okinoerabushima, the Fleet will head to Naga for a much needed rest, which will include gaining newer models of TBFs and Helldivers, as well as upgrading the last F6F-3s to -5s.
SWPAC. Amami Oshima proved to be a tough nut to crack, but most of the excitement was at sea, not on land where sufficient forces were landed at the outset. I expect similar events to unfold at Tokunoshima and Okinoerabushima landings, without the naval fireworks. The ground campaign culminated on Formosa with Taihoku being seized easier than expected. SWPAC will focus on the air campaign in Dec, with the start of a prolonged, attritional fighter campaign over the skies of Kyushu to gain air superiority. An estimated 2000+ fighter are estimated to be in Kyushu, mostly at northern bases. But with the new bases seized in the Ryukyus, single engine fighters are well within range. I expect a brutal, expensive, but ultimately successful air campaign lasting at least a month.
China. Taking Chengtu and Chungking were welcome surprises, and culminated the intended drive north. The eastern drive has found what appears to be a fairly robust defensive line, centered on Changsa. Also helping China is the supply situation which has climbed to over 500k in country. Will take most of December to reposition forces, and will not look until Jan ’45 before making a major Chinese led effort. Dec will focus on maintaining contact with SE Asia’s attack along the coastal ports, and probing the IJA defensive line.
SE Asia. Not one, but two jewels were restored to the Crown in Nov with both Hong Kong and then Singapore being liberated at a much lower cost than expected. With Canton also falling, most of the SE Asia ground forces are now resting and preparing, only XXXIII Corps is currently engaged in clearing coastal bases in order to gain AFs to range Kyushu, which will be the focus in Dec. Also, will look to transit much support base units out of Malaya and the DEI now that the Malayan campaign is over. Goal is that SE Asia forces are prepared to launch a new campaign in Feb ’45 against the Korean Peninsula.